Every week, we post seven to ten news stories from Israel with a suggested prayer focus and scripture for each one, guiding readers how to pray for Israel’s most urgent needs. This Prayer Update is also sent to over 18,000 subscribers every Friday by e-mail. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to receive this Prayer Update by e-mail.
Netanyahu Edges Further Away from Majority
Thursday, 5 March 2020 | What happened: The votes are still being counted, but with 99.85% of the votes in, neither [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu nor Gantz has a majority, and the Netanyahu-led bloc of right-wing ultra-Orthodox parties has 58 seats and the center-left bloc 55. Likud [Netanyahu’s party] has 36 seats, Blue and White 33 seats, Joint List 15 seats, Shas 9 seats, United Torah Judaism 7 seats, Yisrael Beiteinu 7 seats, Labour-Gesher-Meretz 7 seats, Yamina 6 seats.
Context: While all sides wait for the final results, the top priority for the right-wing bloc is to find enough defectors to build a 61-seat majority. There are several candidates potentially ripe for the move; however, at this point they are all staying loyal to their parties. Likud [is] thought to be targeting Blue and White MK [member of Knesset/Parliament] Omer Yankelevich, as she has allegedly criticized Benny Gantz’s leadership. According to Channel 12 News, her husband is affiliated to the ultra-Orthodox community and “would not go against the rabbis.”
Looking ahead: The remaining absentee ballots will be counted today, with a final result expected to be announced this evening. The absentee votes include soldiers, prisoners, Israeli diplomats abroad and those quarantined with suspected exposure to coronavirus.
Photo Credit: Кабінет Міністрів України/wikimedia.org
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Intercede for the people and nation the Lord has chosen as His own, asking that He will act in mercy and give them leadership and a government which will turn and seek Him. Pray for humility and a willingness to lay down personal agendas among those who seek to govern Israel.
And I will give you shepherds according to My heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.
Israel Allegedly Conducted More Overnight Strikes on Terror Targets in Syria
by Kate Norman
Thursday, 5 March 2020 | Pre-dawn strikes in central and southern Syria, which Syrian media attributed to Israeli warplanes, reportedly targeted a terrorist military site and a military airfield used by an Iran-backed terror group.
One report said the targets included a weapons shipment bound for Hezbollah, a terror army entrenched in Lebanon that acts as a tentacle outstretched from Tehran.
Syrian state-run news agency SANA, citing an unnamed “military source,” reported that the attacks took place at 3 a.m. by Israeli planes approaching and firing missiles from Lebanese airspace.
“The [military] source added that immediately the air defenses confronted the hostile missiles successfully and professionally that prevented any of the missiles from reaching the army’s targeted sites,” the SANA report added.
Reports of the damage differ, but a London-based Arabic newspaper told a different story, reporting that at least one Syrian soldier was killed and four others injured in the overnight strikes.
Israel did not comment on its alleged involvement in the overnight strikes, following its longstanding policy of remaining quiet on its responsibility for military strikes outside the Jewish state’s borders.
On Friday, Syria blamed Israel for a drone strike that killed a man identified by Syrian media as a local Hezbollah commander responsible for recruiting more fighters to establish a network for attacks against the Jewish state. Israel, once again, did not comment on its involvement.
However, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) made two significant exceptions to that policy recently. On Monday—Israel’s Election Day—the IDF announced that it had targeted a sniper targeting Israelis from the Syrian Golan Heights.
“We identified an attempted sniper attack from Syria toward the Golan Heights in northern Israel,” the IDF tweeted. “In response, our soldiers just targeted the vehicle involved in the attempted attack.”
One week before that, the IDF announced that it struck Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) targets in Gaza and Syria in a round of fighting in which over 80 rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel. PIJ is the second largest terror group operating in the Strip, second only to Hamas, and is backed by Iran, with headquarters in Syria.
Now that southern Israel has quieted down, with no recent major flare-ups along the Gaza border, things are heating up in the north of the Jewish state.
Though Israel does not often acknowledge its involvement in specific strikes in Syria, several Israeli officials have hinted or outright stated that the Jewish state has carried out hundreds of strikes on military targets in Syria throughout the Syrian Civil War. Those strikes almost exclusively target Iranian military sites, weapons shipments and Hezbollah targets. In a few cases, the IDF has struck Syrian military aerial defense batteries fired at Israeli planes.
The Jewish state constantly monitors the threat at its northern borders and has vowed that it will not allow Iran to entrench itself in countries across the region to use as a launching pad for attacks on Israel.
Source: (Bridges for Peace, March 5, 2020)
Photo Credit: Major Ofer, Israeli Air Force רס"ן עופר, חיל האוויר הישראלי/wikimedia.org
Photo License: wikimedia.org
Declare the Lord as Israel’s stronghold and fortress on her northern border. Pray that Israel will continue to obtain military intelligence about specific locations and times of weapons shipments and will be successful in defeating the plans of the enemy.
The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; the God of my strength, in whom I will trust; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge; my Savior, You save me from violence.
Tens of Thousands of Israelis to be Quarantined as Coronavirus Fears Increase
Thursday, 5 March 2020 | Tens of thousands of Israelis will be required to remain quarantined as cultural, sporting and other public events, including celebrations of the upcoming Purim [Feast of Esther] holiday, will all be canceled.The Health Ministry on Wednesday issued new guidelines to combat the spread of the coronavirus, including a requirement for anyone returning from France, Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Spain to maintain a two-week quarantine. Travelers returning from China, Singapore, Thailand, Japan, Hong Kong, Macau, South Korea and Italy have already been instructed to do the same.
The ministry is instructing anyone who has arrived from any of these countries within the past two weeks to also enter a period of quarantine.
Five flights from France, seven from Germany, two from Spain, four from Austria and one flight from Switzerland are all expected to land at the Ben-Gurion International Airport before midnight. Health officials are expected to meet people as they disembark and instruct them in the new guidelines.
Anyone traveling in transit from these destinations will not be required to take any precautionary measures.
Health Minister Yaakov Litzman has also announced he is banning gatherings of over 5,000 people.
Purim festivals and holiday events have been canceled by municipalities around the country, and the Jerusalem Municipality said it is considering the cancelation of the Jerusalem Marathon scheduled for March 20.
The Israel Football Association announced matches will continue but the crowds will remain home.
Earlier Wednesday, a teacher who is also a deputy principal in an elementary school near Tel Aviv was confirmed to have been infected by the virus. As of this evening, 2,349 students and 146 teachers and support staff from various schools and kindergartens are among those quarantined.
Eurovision winner and international star Netta Barzilai who returned from Spain is also required to stay in quarantine for two weeks, as are 150 El Al crew members.
Tel Aviv and Bar Ilan universities have announced they are canceling all academic conferences that include the participation of international guests at least until the end of April, although the decision is expected to be extended.
The Civil Service Commission announced it is banning all international travel for employees and strongly urges that any civil service member refrain from private international travel as well.
Health workers are also required to stay in Israel at the instruction of the director-general of the Health Ministry.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the Health Ministry earlier in the day and briefed reporters on the new measures adopted by the government saying that the world was in the midst of a pandemic. “This is the truth and it must be said,” the prime minister stated.
“Israel is one of the only countries in the West that is in a relatively good place,” the prime minister said. “We’ve taken severe measures in order to prevent the spread [of the virus].”
Netanyahu advised against shaking hands and suggested the Indian greeting namaste as an option.
Photo Credit: coyot/pixabay.com
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Pray that Israel’s Health Ministry and the medical personnel tasked with containing the coronavirus will be filled with a fear of the Lord and will acknowledge their dependence on His wisdom alone.
Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and depart from evil. It will be health to your flesh, and strength to your bones.
Deepening Ties between Azerbaijan and Israel Displayed
by Janet Aslin
Wednesday, 4 March 2020 | Each spring for the past 50 years, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) has held a policy conference for delegates from America, Israel and around the world. One thing brings them together—they are all unabashedly pro-Israel. So when the Shia Muslim country of Azerbaijan sent Samir Sharifov, its finance minister, to address the gathering of 18,000 Israel supporters, it was a very public and positive endorsement for the State of Israel.
Sharifov was part of a long roster of speakers, a “who’s who” of current leadership in the United States and Israel. The presidents of Columbia, Serbia and the Dominican Republic also addressed the crowd. So how did this historic event come about?
Azerbaijan is a small country with powerful neighbors—Russia to the north and Iran to the south. It was part of the former Soviet Union, achieving independence in 1991. Since that time, ties with Israel have been developing. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made two visits to Baku—the first in 1997 and the second in late 2016.
In his AIPAC address Sharifov acknowledged that Israel supported Azerbaijan “in need with armaments.” He also read remarks from Azerbaijan’s first vice president, Mehriban Aliyeva, who reiterated the country’s gratitude for the Jewish people, both in Israel and America, who have “maintained close ties with Azerbaijan and contribute to the strengthening of our relations with these countries. We are much grateful to them.”
Was the public stand at the AIPAC Policy Conference without risk for the tiny nation? It undoubtedly took the close ties between itself and Israel to a new level of visibility. The Jerusalem Post quoted from an interview with Dr Avinoam Idan of Haifa University: “It shows to everybody that they [Azerbaijanis] are not hiding this special relationship between Israel and Azerbaijan. They [Azerbaijan] take the risk, they are willing to pay any price, to be under pressure from their neighbors.”
Source: (Bridges for Peace, March 4, 2020)
Photo Credit: President.az/wikimedia.org
Photo License: wikimedia.org
Give thanks for the alliance between these two nations and Azerbaijan’s willingness to make a public statement of support for Israel. Pray that the friendship will continue to develop until it becomes like that of David and Jonathan.
Now when he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.
IAEA Reports Iran’s Stockpile of Enriched Uranium Nearly Tripled
by Janet Aslin
Thursday, 5 March 2020 | The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) issued two reports on Tuesday as part of its role in monitoring the 2015 nuclear agreement signed by Iran and six world powers. The agency’s first report, as seen by the Associated Press, stated that “as of Feb. 19, Iran’s total stockpile of low-enriched uranium amounted to 1,020.9 kilograms (1.1 tons), compared to 372.3 kilograms on Nov. 3, 2019.” The amount is alarmingly close to the 1,050 kilograms (1.16 tons) the Washington-based Arms Control Association says would be needed to produce a nuclear weapon, Fox News reported.
The second report gave details on Tehran’s refusal to allow the IAEA to visit two sites which are suspected of being locations where Iran stored undeclared nuclear material or performed activities related to their nuclear program. The request for an onsite visit was denied by Iran.
Iran’s nuclear program has been the focus of concern since the 1979 Iranian Revolution. The United States and Israel in particular have warned that the nation’s leaders would not hesitate to use an atomic weapon in case of conflict. In 2015, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was signed between Iran and the P5+1 (permanent members of the UN Security Council—US, UK, France, Russia and China—and Germany). Under the terms of the JCPOA, Iran agreed to limit the purity rate of its enriched uranium to 3.76%, the size of its stockpile of enriched uranium to 202.8 kilograms (447 lb.) and the number of centrifuges in return for certain economic incentives.
Iran has long been suspected of violating the JCPOA and has not always allowed IAEA inspectors free access to its nuclear sites. However, in 2018 when the United States unilaterally pulled out of the agreement, Tehran began to be more open about its violations and announced steps it would take to renege on its commitments. Increasing its number of centrifuges and amounts of enriched uranium are two of those steps.
The increased stockpile of low-enriched uranium (4.5%) does not mean Iran will have nuclear capability tomorrow. Weapons-grade uranium must be enriched to 90% purity, and there are doubts that Iran has a missile capable of delivering an atomic warhead, although they are constantly working toward this end.
Publicly Iran continues to deny that it is attempting to develop an atomic weapon. According to Business Insider, these “latest moves from Iran appear to be more about ramping up pressure on European powers scrambling to save the JCPOA, rather than serious steps toward building a nuclear weapon.” Iran may simply be attempting to have economic sanctions lifted.
The Persians were masters of chess, a complex game of strategy, and their descendants today are no different. The world needs to continue to be alert to the moves they are making and the possible consequences.
Source: (Bridges for Peace, March 5, 2020)
Photo Credit: Jesuiseduardo/International Atomic Energy Agency/wikimedia.org
Photo License: wikimedia.org
Cry out to God on behalf of His people, the nation of Israel, which Iran has declared many times must be destroyed. Expose Iran’s evil intentions and bring to nothing the plans they are making.
Do not keep silent, O God! Do not hold Your peace, and do not be still, O God! For behold, Your enemies make a tumult; and those who hate You have lifted up their head. They have said, “Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation, that the name of Israel may be remembered no more.”
Hijab and Handgun: Israel’s First Muslim Female Detective is Breaking the Mold
by Israel Moskovitz
Monday, 2 March 2020 | Police Master Sergeant Sabrin Sa’adi, an investigator for the juvenile division in the northern Arab village of Kafr Kanna, will become the first hijab-wearing religious Muslim female to be a police investigation officer.
“I want to become the first hijab-wearing commissioner,” says Sa’adi.
Sa’adi was born and raised in the northern Bedouin village of Basmat Tab’un and studied in Haifa.
After graduating from high school, Sa’adi volunteered for national service in the police, trying to enlist after her service was up.
Since at the time there were no open positions, she worked as a retail manager for a clothing store in Haifa in the meantime.
Everything changed three years ago when she received a phone call from Deputy Commissioner Jamal Hakrush for the Israel police northern district, who offered her to join the force after positions were open to religious Muslim Arab women.
Sa’adi leaped at the opportunity, enlisted and went through basic and investigation training at the national police academy in Bet Shemesh.
After she finished her training, she was posted to the Kafr Kanna police station, a newly built station that oversees the 60,000 residents of Kafr Kanna, Tur’an, Mashhad, Al-Batuf, Hoshaya and Kibbutz Beit Rimon.
Sa’adi is the only investigator for the station’s juvenile division, along with two youth inspectors.
“I grew up in a religious Muslim home, my mother is very religious, and we prayed five times a day and wear hijabs,” says Sa’adi, who lives with her family. “There are no other hijab wearing women who ever went to officer training.”
For her, it’s not only a matter of personal achievement but also a sense of duty.
“I want to convey a message to all other religious Muslim women like me,” she said.
“The police is a good home for us, the organization lets you climb up the ranks, to prove yourself and feel equal.”
Despite her prestigious position, the way to the top was not easy for her. Along with the admiration and encouragement from her family and friends, she has had to deal with some unwanted side effects.
“When I first enlisted there were threats to hurt me on Facebook,” she says. “I’m not afraid, I live by my beliefs and I am not hurting anyone. I’m only afraid of God.”
Even today Sa’adi says that she comes across comments by other Arabs who don’t want to see a religious Muslim Arab woman in police uniform.
“It’s only because I’m religious, they expect me to stay at home,” she says.
Northern District Commander Maj. Gen. Shimon Lavie emphasizes the importance of Arab women joining the force.
“The Northern District is working to promote the enlistment of Arab women in a variety of roles and work for their advancement,” he says.
“We wish the best of luck to Sabrin in officers’ training and await her return as an investigative officer in our district.”
Photo Credit: Gellerj/wikimedia.org
Photo License: wikimedia.org
Pray for the successful integration of Muslim women into the fabric of the Israeli workforce. Pray that Sabrin Sa’adi would be a role model for other women.
Strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and the sons of the foreigner shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers.
Will This Be the Year the Degania Dam Is Opened?
by Janet Aslin
Friday, 28 February 2020 | A mere two years ago, the Sea of Galilee (Kinneret) was in big trouble. Four years of drought-like conditions had left its water level approaching the “black line,” the point at which water quality is damaged and the ecology of the lake seriously compromised. Today, Israelis are rejoicing as the Kinneret is .94 meters (3 ft) from the “upper red line.”
The Kinneret is a thermometer, so to speak, of Israel’s water health. When the rains are plentiful, the lake is full and the country relaxes because there is enough water. On the other hand, during years of drought, people speak of the lake’s water level in terms of red lines and black lines. There are two red lines—the upper and lower—which measure its peak fullness (upper) and the point at which water may not be pumped out and there is a noted deterioration in water quality (lower). And then there is the black line, the historic low point—1.87 meters (6.1 ft) below the lower red line. In 2018 the Times of Israel reported, “Israel’s Water Authority warned that the Sea of Galilee was drying up as a result of low rainfall, and warned that it was approaching the “black line.”
Fast forward to today. Israel experienced a rainy January which has continued into the month of February. The desert is awash with the color of wild flowers, some of whose “seeds can lay dormant for years until there is enough water for them to germinate” (Times of Israel). Talk has now begun of opening the Degania Dam to let water out of the Kinneret.
The Degania Dam was constructed in 1964 at the mouth of the Jordan River to help regulate water levels in the Kinneret. It has been partially opened in the years since its construction, the last time in 2013. The Jewish Press reports the positive effect that “opening the dam would prevent the possible flooding of the communities located near the lake, and would replenish the waters of the Jordan River and onward south to the Dead Sea.” However, the timing is important. Waiting until the lake has reached full capacity could mean too much water being released at once and could overwhelm the capacity of the small dam. The decision if, and when, to open the dam belongs to Israel’s Water Authority, which met in mid-February to begin its considerations.
In the meantime, there is snow on Mount Hermon that will melt in the coming weeks and continue to fill the lake. Will this be the year that the upper red line is reached and the dam opened? There is a very good chance that will happen. Regardless, there is water in the Kinneret, and that brings joy to the hearts of Israelis and visitors alike.
Source: (Bridges for Peace, February 28, 2020)
Photo Credit: Theo Polstra/bridgesforpeace.com
Give thanks to the Lord for the abundance of water and snow that has fallen in Israel this winter. Pray that Israel’s water authority will know when to open the dam and exactly how long it should remain open.
But the land which you cross over to possess is a land of hills and valleys, which drinks water from the rain of heaven, a land for which the LORD your God cares; the eyes of the LORD your God are always on it, from the beginning of the year to the very end of the year.
PA: You’re a “Traitor” if You Sell Land to Jews
by Nan Jacques Zilberdik
Monday, 2 March 2020 | Any Palestinian who sells land to Jews is “a traitor,” according to the Palestinian Authority [PA]. This was recently reiterated by a PA governor who instructed the PA police to “take the firmest steps” against anyone who has sold or transferred land to Jews. He emphasized that anyone doing so is “a traitor”:
“Salfit District Governor Abdallah Kmeil… emphasized that it is important to defend the land, cultivate it, and defend it from the occupation and the danger of the settler enterprise. He emphasized that it is necessary to receive a security permit from the district before any land sale, both from within Palestine and from outside of it. He said that he has instructed the [PA] Security Forces to take the firmest steps against anyone who is proven to have secretly sold or transferred lands to the occupation, or to have collaborated in the matter. He also emphasized that anyone who does not follow these instructions will be labeled a traitor.”
[Official PA daily, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, February 19, 2020]
PA Chairman Abbas himself in 2014 issued a decision that gives “life imprisonment with forced labor for the clandestine transfer, leasing or selling of lands to a hostile country or its citizens”:
PA TV newsreader: “[PA] Chairman Mahmoud Abbas published a decision on an amendment to the Jordanian penal law and on its previous amendments in the northern districts (i.e., the West Bank [Judea and Samaria]). In the new amendment, he instituted life imprisonment with forced labor for the clandestine transfer, leasing or selling of lands to a hostile country or its citizens. The previous penalty for the clandestine transfer of land was temporary forced labor.”
[Official PA TV, October 21, 2014]
Palestinian law signed by PA Chairman Abbas states that one who attempts to sell land to Jews will be sentenced to five years of hard labor, and one who actually succeeds in selling land to Jews will be given a life sentence with hard labor.
Salfit District Governor Abdallah Kmeil’s statements echo that of Fatah [leading secular Palestinian political party] official Tawfiq Tirawi reported by Palestinian Media Watch [PMW] earlier this month who suggested that PA security forces should not stop Palestinian terrorists targeting Israelis but instead pursue “real estate agents” and “collaborators.”
PMW exposed that the PA Grand Mufti [head of regional muftis/Islamic jurisconsults] of a state issued a religious prohibition against selling or transferring land to “enemies,” stating that this is “treason,” a sin, and forbidden in 2018. The PA acted according to this ruling and arrested Palestinians who were selling land to Jews.
At the time, Abbas’ Fatah movement repeated the Mufti’s ruling and stated that land sellers are “collaborators and traitors against the religion and the land”:
“The Fatah movement emphasized that those who illegally sell land to Israelis, directly or indirectly, are collaborators and traitors against the religion, the land, the people, the blood of the martyrs (shahids), and our brave prisoners. It added that the curse of fate will pursue them and they will be banished and despised; that their treason will haunt them everywhere until they reach the point where they wish for death in order to be freed of their treason—but they will not find it. Fatah Revolutionary Council member and [Fatah] Spokesman Osama Al-Qawasmi… demanded that all the families publicly denounce the traitorous collaborators who sold their consciences and were happy to serve as pimps and support the Israeli occupation against the members of their people.”
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, October 27, 2018]
Fatah movement secretary in Jerusalem Shadi Mattour likewise explained that the Palestinian people will continue to “excommunicate” any Palestinians who sell land to Jews:
“Fatah movement secretary in Jerusalem Shadi Mattour said: ‘We will continue to pursue those who illegally transfer property in Jerusalem to the occupation. These steps by the occupation will not prevent the members of our people from excommunicating them and stopping them in order to protect the property in Jerusalem from Judaization.’”
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, November 5, 2018]
Source: (Palestinian Media Watch originally published this article on February 28, 2020. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)
Photo Credit: English Foreign and Commonwealth Office/wikimedia.org
Photo License: wikimedia.org
Ask the Lord to protect those Palestinians who are willing to sell land to the Jewish people. Pray that the unrighteous laws governing the sale of land will be overturned and that the Lord’s people will again be able to inhabit their inheritance.
Remember His covenant forever…the covenant which He made with Abraham, and His oath to Isaac, and confirmed it to Jacob for a statute, to Israel for an everlasting covenant, saying, “To you I will give the land of Canaan as the allotment of your inheritance.”
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